Becoming a Financial Advisor requires hard work and dedication to acquire the necessary education and licensing. Since you will be working directly with clients, having a comfort level to talk to people is critical. Also, to earn a high income, it will take many years to build a customer base. To begin the process toward becoming a Financial Advisor, you must carefully consider your educational path.
During the education you will likely participate in internships or have exposure to a variety of companies that will help you determine the type of business you would like to enter. After graduation, many graduates considering finding a mentor that can transform their formal education into real-world finance. To be successful in this industry, it is critical that you understand how to find new clients and focus on growth.
Types of Financial Advisors
There are many different types of financial advisors including:
- Financial planners
- Insurance agents
- Investment advisors and consultants
- Stock brokers
Best Degree for a Financial Advisor
The minimum educational requirement for entry-level employment of a Financial Advisor is a bachelor’s degree. Although degrees in any discipline are acceptable, those within the field have an advantage. The most common majors for Financial Advisors include:
- Financial planning
Within these majors, it is important to complete coursework that includes estate planning, investing, risk management and taxation. This will provide groundwork for different types of businesses and investments allowing you to be better-rounded. Therefore, the best type of degree to become a Financial Advisor is in the finance discipline.
In addition to the standard bachelor programs, certificate programs will provide post-graduate work for those who already hold a degree. This will help boost you career, provide additional knowledge and make you more credible to potential clients. Many colleges and universities offer certificate programs. The most common coursework includes tax planning, employee benefits, risk management, investment strategy, insurance and retirement planning.
For those Financial Advisors who wish to differentiate themselves from others and further advance their careers by moving into management positions, pursue a Master’s degree. The most common fields are a Master of Science in Finance or a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Many programs even offer specializations in different management fields. The best courses in graduate work include fixed income analysis and financial accounting.
In addition to these many different educational options, Financial Advisors must acquire specific licensures. For instance, those who manage bonds, insurance policies and stocks must be licensed to sell and be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) o state regulators.
There are a variety of state-specific licensure requirements that are offered by the North American Securities Administrators Association. Also, there are many optional certifications, such as Certified Financial Planner, which is offered to those with at least three years of experience within the field. Also, the passing of an examination is typically required to be awarded the licensing.
Additional Required Skills
In addition to the extensive educational requirements, there are a number of other skills that are applicable to the position. First, personality traits go a long way. This includes be courteous, smiling, upbeat and listening to your clients. Another critical skill is the ability to understand how to speak with many different types of people from different backgrounds and making them feel as comfortable as possible. The more comfortable they are with you and your knowledge, the more successful you will be.
Additionally, technology is critical to the management of financial accounts as well as conducting research. This includes being able to utilize Microsoft Office, SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation Software as well as many other proprietary programs.